Bellator 51: 158,000 viewers

September 27, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 51 held Saturday night drew an average of 158,000 viewers on MTV2. The results were up from last week but still an overall disappointing rating.

The opening of the bantamweight tournament for Bellator featured a highlight reel knockout of Joe Warren by Alex Vila. But, it faced stiff competition from UFC 135 as well as the usual slate of college football.

Payout Perspective:

According to MMA Junkie, the 158,000 viewers were ranked 14th out of 17 Bellator shows on MTV2. Its a tough spot for Bellator considering it went up against UFC 135. If you consider the fact that the UFC 135 prelims had strong ratings, you can infer that most MMA fans were going to be focused on the UFC Saturday night.

7 Responses to “Bellator 51: 158,000 viewers”

  1. ChrisC on September 27th, 2011 2:52 PM

    They need to move there events to friday nights. Not smart to go up against the UFC.

  2. BrainSmasher on September 27th, 2011 5:52 PM

    In my opinion, their biggest problem is the tournament format. It is the root of all their problems. Fans love tournaments. It is instant gratification but for an org it is a short term success that kills you long term. You completely lose the greatest tool a Fight promotion has to build stars and that is match making. Fights orgs find the marketable guy with talent and in a small way protects them. Tournaments are chaos. Everyone gets beat and you never know who is going to win. How can you promote a fighter when you have no idea who is going to win and how long they are going to be on top?

    Joe Warren is their 135 champ. He just got flattened by someone with ZERO fights in Bellator in the first round. Warren still has the belt, Vila may not win the tournament, adn the winner might eb someone who got lucky due to the unpredictable nature of the tournament. So who do they put money into promoting? what is the point in promoting someone who can lose all momentum on a crap shoot tournament.

    There is a real simple solution. STOP putting name fighters and champs in the tournament. Tournaments are good because you dont needs name fighters for people to want to see a tournament. Put no name guys and let one of them make a name for themselves by winning it. Put name fighters as the main event in single fights.

    No one cares about any of the fighters in Bellator. They dont promote them and cant promote them. Bellator is selling an idea, the tournament, and not the sport or their fighters or their belts. Not a easy sell when that “idea” takes 8 months to play out.

  3. Machiel Van on September 28th, 2011 8:34 AM

    BrainSmasher illustrates a great point that I actually made on this very website awhile ago (although Warren is the 145 lb champ, not 135; he had his eyes set on winning 2 belts, but he is a natural 135 lb fighter so it was quite a blow to his stock): Bellator’s tournament format, while easy to follow and exciting for hardcore, retro-minded fans like me, creates a problem for its champions. Eddie Alvarez and Hector Lombard in particular, have taken several non-title fights while under the Bellator banner, some even occurring outside the organization. Let’s use Alvarez as an example: Alvarez won the belt on June 19, 2009, but didn’t even get a CHANCE to defend it until April 2, 2011. Between winning the title and defending it, Alvarez fought three times: once at DREAM 12, and two other times in non-title fights in Bellator. He fought Josh Neer at a catchweight, but fought Roger Huerta at lightweight. So what if Alvarez had lost any of those fights? It would ruin the legitimacy of his championship title, and to make matters worse, it could’ve occurred within the very organization where he is champion, and in the case of the Huerta fight, would’ve been at the very weight at which he is champion.

  4. Machiel Van on September 28th, 2011 8:41 AM

    This hypothetical situation, as BrainSmasher pointed out, has become a reality for Joe Warren. While Warren was fighting at 135 lbs., you can’t make the argument the argument that he was fighting out of his weight class because he himself publicly (and foolishly IMO) stated that he is, in fact, a natural 135 lb fighter. He was KO’d in absolutely brutal fashion by a fighter 10 lbs lighter than the weight at which Warren is champion. That’s like if Frankie Edgar dropped to featherweight and was knocked out by Chad Mendes, while UFC fans around the world were watching, then turned right around to defend his lightweight title. How would that look? Now Warren will defend his featherweight title after another tournament, despite a highlight reel KO against a smaller fighter than he will be facing. For Avila, it stinks because you’d have to think Bellator won’t want to showcase that particular highlight very often, if at all. If Alvarez and Lombard lost non-title fights, you would have three defeated champions holding belts you claim to be legitimate and prestigious. Pro-wrestling anyone?

  5. Machiel Van on September 28th, 2011 8:52 AM

    Bjorn Rebney has been quite rigid about the tournament format, but this problem will continue since there simply aren’t enough tournaments to produce consistent opponents for Bellator’s champions. While the tournament winners should earn title shots, there’s no reason NOT to give title shots to established fighters like Huerta as well, tournament be damned (although Huerta would have to have NOT lost in the tourney). Alvarez/Neer should also have been a title fight at lightweight. If Alvarez loses, then whoever beat him could defend the title against the next tournament winner. The format would be preserved, and the belt, while not exclusively tied to the tournaments, would retain its legitimacy. And you could have a rematch vs Alvarez after that, no tourney necessary, or Alvarez could enter said next tournament. This would give Bellator a lot more versatility with their title fights and matchmaking, and allow for more “big fights.” Say what you want about the UFC not using tournaments, or even a concrete ranking system, but they certainly tend to put on “big fights” that fans want to see. To me, tournaments<biggest fights. Although this leads to some "undeserved" title fights, and some might thing it somewhat undermines the legitimacy of MMA as a sport, pretty much the best are fighting the best under Zuffa so who cares?

  6. mmaguru on September 28th, 2011 1:49 PM

    The only lifeline for Bellator is if the UFC and Spike reach a deal that will allow Spike to air Bellator events in ’12.

  7. BrainSmasher on September 28th, 2011 4:21 PM

    Good post Machiel.

    Guru, that is true. But really how much success can they have with their current model? The UFC blew up with Spike TV because they used the network to create stars to care about. Im not talking about just TUF fighters. Those were only used to get eyes on the real stars and champions. It is already hard to build stars when you control who they fight. It is almost impossible to build stars when you throw them in tournament. Only 1 guy can come out of it without losing. You never know who it is.

    Look at the UFC. 5 of their top 7 LHW’s are coming off of wins. That cant happen if they all enter a tournament. You can never build 2 or more guys who have a lot of momentum. You can never have a large list of contenders with 3+ wins in a row. Only 1 guy can win the tournament. The UFC has created a ton of new interesting fights for GSP through match making and single fights. Story was in position, Charlie Brennaman, Condit, MacDonald, Ellenburger, in addition to the Penns, Diaz, and Koschecks.

    Bellator really needs to get away from selling these tournaments. At best they can have 1 guy who wins all the time in tournaments and make a big name for himself. But what happens if he is bought out by the UFC? Then they have no names at all. More than likely everyone will beat everyone so often no one stands out to be a draw. They really need to do single fights with their best fighters and build many big name guys at each weight class. This way you can appeal to all fans(Not everyone likes Rampage, Rua, Evans, Franklin, etc. But everyone likes someone at 205). This also assures that they have a credible replacement is their champ is poached by the UFC.

    Bellator is going to be another in a long line of Fight Orgs who blew a golden opportunity. Like Elite XC who tried to use their tv deal to sell a street fight version of MMA and IFL who tried to force a team concept. We already know what works. They needs to quit trying to reinvent the wheel.

    Its like the XFL. I felt at the time there was a demand for more football. College is huge, NFL is huge, and people still fill seats in their local high school. There is always room for more football. But fans didnt want a bastardized version of football. They wanted football. People want MMA now and these promoters are trying to push more bastardized verses on the public.

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